A new material just might be the answer to curbing greenhouse gas emissions from air conditioners around the world. The material works by throwing the heat given off by an air conditioner into space, giving it the potential to completely overhaul air-conditioning systems. 

An innovative radiative cooling technology system is slated to cut consumption of air conditioning units by as much as 70% when it is used in new buildings and construction. The good news is that it can also be installed on old systems to change how they they operate.

SkyCool Systems is a start-up company that is working tirelessly from its headquarters at Stanford University to revamp air conditioning systems to literally change the world. Although they look like nothing more than a metal frame and aluminum foil, they are unlike other air conditioning materials; the panels of the SkyCool Systems are fashioned more like mirrors that are designed to change the traditional way that airconditioning units work. According to the system designers, depending on where the systems are used, they can cut the energy necessary to cool air conditioning structures by as much up to 70%, which can put a significant dent in greenhouse gas emissions.

Air conditioners currently give off heat in the form of infrared radiation. Although it’s invisible to the naked eye, it is a form of light that is in the red spectrum of light waves. When you wear clothes, the object is to keep that radiant heat in to keep you warm. The atmosphere works in a similar fashion and retains a portion of radiant heat by using water molecules. 

Silver emissions, which are in the mid-infrared range, slip through the atmosphere. Often considered a light that is the “window to space,” materials that radiate in the silver range aren’t trapped or sent back down. They are allowed to escape into space. Why is that important? Typically it’s during the daytime that air conditioners are working their hardest, and the cooling mechanisms have to work overtime to offset the heat coming from the sun. The SkyCool system is the first of its kind to develop a material that is so advanced that it works to radiate silver infrared light that can escape into the atmosphere without being sent back. It also can reflect as much as 97% of the sunlight’s reflection. When placed on the roof of a building, directly in the sunlight, the temperature remains below ambient air. 

SkyCool Systems is currently trying to commercialize their new material to help many industries, one of which is the air conditioning industry. The technology has also been shown to be capable of cooling flowing water. If you set thin water pipes beneath the panels, the temperature of the water running through the pipes has been shown to cool considerably over the period of three days. The material’s potential is also good to be fastened to condenser components in conventional air conditioners and refrigeration units. 

The best news is that the technology doesn’t have to be used just in new products -- it can also be retrofitted to accommodate older systems, which means that if it’s produced it could have a vast and far-reaching chance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a grand scale. Estimates made by the Department of Energy show that if the technology is used on a wide scale, it could result in a 10-20% reduction in the supply used by current electricity grids.

For those who use the technology in new buildings, the potential is that it can cut energy needs by as much as 70% over traditional heating and cooling systems. SkyCool isn’t the only company trying to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and find better alternatives to energy usage; other companies are also trying to target the way that radiant heat penetrates the atmosphere and the way it gets trapped in it. The hope is that with all these new ways to shoot heat into space, gases will stop getting stuck in the atmosphere and wreaking havoc on earth as greenhouse gas emissions.